While the New York Jets decision to sign Teddy Bridgewater was brilliant, their decision to trade him away before the start of the regular season was impulsive and regrettable.
I want you to envision a scenario.
Let’s say you’ve just won valuable tickets to a high profile concert, but you aren’t able to attend. Rather than simply letting the tickets go to waste, you sell them for $300.
At first glance, that seems like a great deal right? You just received $300 for nothing. Free money.
However, what if I told you that the tickets you just sold for $300 were actually worth $1,000? Would you still feel the same way?
On one hand, Jets management was brilliant. They acquired Bridgewater for basically nothing (paying him $1 million in guarantees), and then flipped him for draft capital. At first glance, this trade sounds amazing.
Once you dig deeper into the actual terms of the trade, however, it doesn’t look nearly as impressive for the Jets.
Compensation update on Jets-Saints trade: New York is sending QB Teddy Bridgewater and a sixth-round pick to New Orleans for a third-round pick, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 29, 2018
The Jets sent Bridgewater and a 6th round pick to the Saints for a 3rd round pick.
The problem with this trade is not just the compensation, but the compensation in light of the circumstances.
If Sam Darnold was playing well, and the Jets were flipping Bridgewater at the trade deadline for the exact same value they received in this trade, then this would be a great trade.
Despite a promising preseason, the Jets have absolutely no idea how Darnold will play once the kid gloves are taken off and the games start to count. And the NFL trade deadline is months away.
So the big question remains: why now?
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If a team blew the Jets out of the water with an offer (let’s say a 1st or even 2nd round pick), then the Jets would have been foolish not to accept. But if the best offers on the table right now involve swapping mid-round picks, then why not wait to make a trade?
If the Jets had held on to Bridgewater, they would have been forced to carry three quarterbacks into the start of the season. They also would have had valuable quarterback insurance in case Darnold scuffles out of the gate.
More importantly, the Jets should have kept Bridgewater for now because they would have received much more for him later.
Injuries in the NFL are remarkably common, and every year teams lose their starting quarterbacks for extended periods of time. If the Jets had waited until a few contending teams became desperate for quarterback help, they could have set the market for Bridgewater’s services.
A prime example of this occurred just a couple years ago when the Eagles fleeced a desperate Vikings team. After the Vikings lost their starting quarterback, they were suddenly willing to give up two draft picks (including a 1st round pick) for Sam Bradford.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s exciting that the Jets acquired a valuable asset for nothing, and it will be even more exciting if they can somehow package this draft pick into a trade for an elite pass rusher (looking at you, Khalil Mack).
But in a league where anything can happen, and where NFL general managers will occasionally lose their minds and empty their pockets for mediocre, injury-prone quarterbacks like Bradford, no one will ever convince me that the Jets would not eventually have found significantly greater compensation for Bridgewater.